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UAS in India: From a ‘no fly zone’ to a ‘fly zone’
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) announced draft regulations / civil aviation requirements (CARs) on civil use of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), commonly known as drones on November 1, 2017. Readers may go through the draft and comment
The Union Minister of Civil Aviation Shri P. Ashok Gajapathi Raju and the Minister for State for Civil Aviation Shri Jayant Sinha presented and briefed the media about the draft regulation. The draft is open for discussion and people can share their feedback with DGCA by December 1, 2017.
This is an encouraging development as uses of drones are banned since October 2014 by the DGCA primarily due to security issues. In April 2016, DGCA came out with draft guidelines to regulate the civilian uses of UAVs but somehow the same was not finalized.
The draft starts with defining the Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) that’s consists of an Unmanned Aircraft (UA), a Remote Pilot Station (RPS), Command and Control (C2) Link, the maintenance system and the operating personnel. Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA), autonomous aircraft and model aircraft are various sub-sets of UAS.
If further states that UAS operations present problems to the regulator in terms of ensuring safety of other users of airspace and persons on the ground. However, in view of technological advancements in UAS over the years and their increased civil applications, it has become necessary to develop regulations for operations of this activity.
The draft classifies Civil RPA in accordance with Maximum Take-off Weight (MTWO) as mentioned in Table 1.
Requirement of Unique Identification Number (UIN)
All civil RPA shall require to obtain Unique Identification Number (UIN) from DGCA. The exceptions are RPA in Nano category with an intent to fly upto 50 ft AGL, and those owned & operated by Government security agencies are exempted from obtaining UIN.
Eligibility for UIN
UIN will be granted where the RPAS is wholly owned either:
a) By a citizen of India; or
b) By the Central Government or any State Government or any company or corporation owned or controlled by either of the said Governments; or
c) By a company or a body corporate provided that:
i) it is registered and has its principal place of business within India;
ii) its chairman and at least two-thirds of its directors are citizens of India; and,
iii) its substantial ownership and effective control is vested in Indian nationals; or
d) By a company or corporation registered elsewhere than in India, provided that such company or corporation has leased the RPAS to any organization mentioned in b and c above.
Along with the contact details of operator (with valid proof), the applicant should mention the purpose and area of operation, specification of RPAS and the details of compatible payload (with its weight and maximum weight carrying capacity of the RPAS). Copy of RPA Flight Manual/ Manufacturers Operating Manual and Copy of Manufacturer’s maintenance guidelines for RPA will also be required.
▪ Permission for all frequencies used in RPA operations from Department of Telecommunication (Wireless Planning and Coordination Wing);
▪ Security Clearance from MHA (except those owned and operated by Government security agencies)
▪ Verification of character and antecedents of the remote pilot(s) from local sub- divisional police office.
The identification plate (made of fire proof material) inscribed with UIN, RF ID tag and SIM shall be affixed to the RPA.
Requirements for Issue of Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit (UAOP)
All civil RPA operations for any purpose whatsoever will require UAOP from DGCA. However, following are exempted for UAOP
a) Nano RPA operating below 50 ft AGL in uncontrolled airspace & indoor operations.
b) Micro RPA operating below 200 ft AGL in uncontrolled airspace and clear of prohibited; restricted and danger areas; Temporary Segregated Areas (TSA) and Temporary Reserved Areas (TRA) as notified by AAI in the AIP. However, the user shall intimate the local police authorities before conduct of actual operations.
c) RPA owned and operated by Government security agencies. However, the agency shall intimate local police authorities and concerned ATS Units before conduct of actual operations.
All civil RPA operators shall submit duly filled application along with requisite fees as per Rule 15A of Aircraft Rules 1937 for issue of UAOP to DGCA at least 7 days prior to actual conduct of operations along with following documents:
a) Permission from ATS provider (civil/defense);
b) Permission of the land/property owner (area used for take-off and landing of RPA);
c) Details of remote pilot(s) and training records;
d) Insurance details (as applicable);
e) Security programme as approved by BCAS.
The UAOP shall be issued by DGCA as per the format given at Annexure-VI with a copy to MHA, BCAS, IAF, ATS Provider (AAI/MoD), and district administration (Superintendent of Police) for information.
Validity of the UAOP shall be for a period of five years from the date of issue. Renewal of the UAOP shall be subject to fresh security clearance from MHA. UAOP issued by DGCA shall be non-transferrable.
DGCA may impose additional requirements depending upon justification on case- to-case basis.
The owner/operator shall be responsible for the safe custody, security and access control of the RPAS. In case of loss of RPA, the operator shall report immediately to local administration/police, BCAS and DGCA.
The RPAS operator shall ensure that all security measures as enumerated in the Security Programme (approved by BCAS) are in place before operation of each flight.
The ground control station (while in use or in store) shall be secured from sabotage or unlawful interference.
The owner/operator of all RPA except Nano RPA shall be responsible for notifying any incident/accident involving RPA to the Director of Air Safety, DGCA who will further intimate to all the concerned agencies.
The RPAS (issued with UIN) shall not be sold or disposed-off in any way to any person or firm without permission from DGCA. In case, the RPA is damaged and cannot be restored to original condition, the same shall be intimated to DGCA by owner/operator for cancellation of UIN.
Training requirements for remote pilots
Remote pilot shall have attained 18 years of age with thorough ground training equivalent to that undertaken by aircrew of manned aircraft or a PPL holder (Aeroplanes/Helicopter) with FRTOL.
Remote pilots shall undergo thorough practical training on the control of a RPA in flight, which may consist of a proportion of simulated flight training.
The training shall include the following:
a) Basic Radio Telephony (RT) techniques including knowledge of radio frequencies.
b) Flight Planning and ATC procedures.
c) Regulations specific to area of operations.
d) Basic knowledge of multi rotors and fixed wing operations.
e) No-fly zone awareness.
The training shall enable the remote pilot to demonstrate that he/she can control the RPA throughout its operating conditions, including safe recovery during emergencies and system malfunction.
The training requirements are not applicable for Nano and Micro category RPA. However, the user shall be fully aware of his/her responsibilities to fly these machines safely.
Maintenance and repair of RPAS shall be carried out in accordance with the manufacturer s approved procedures, as applicable.
Maintenance of the ground control equipment shall be carried out in accordance with the manufacturer s recommended inspection and overhaul interval, as applicable.
The remote pilot/user shall not fly the RPA unless he/she is reasonably satisfied that all the control systems of RPA including the radio link are in working condition before the flight.
The UAOP holder shall maintain records (till the RPAS is in service) of each RPA flight and make such records available to the DGCA on demand.
All RPA except Nano shall be equipped with the following serviceable components/ equipment:
a) Identification Plate
b) GPS for horizontal and vertical position fixing
c) Autonomous Flight Termination System or Return to Home (RH) option
d) Flashing anti-collision strobe lights
e) RFID and GSM SIM Card Slot for APP based tracking
The RPA intending to operate at or above 200 ft AGL shall carry the following equipment/capabilities in addition to those specified above of this CAR:
a) SSR transponder (Mode C or S ) or ADS-B OUT equipment
b) Barometric equipment with capability for remote subscale setting
c) Geo Fencing capability
d) Detect and Avoid capability
Remote pilot shall be equipped with communication facilities to establish and maintain continuous two-way communication with the concerned ATS unit.
The GPS tracking system of the RPA shall be self-powered and tamper/spoofing proof to ensure data relay even in the event of RPA accident. Airports Authority of India and Indian Air Force shall monitor RPA movements in the country.
Requirements for operation of RPA
The RPA operator shall prepare SOP, which shall contain following procedures according to the provisions contained in relevant sections of AIP-India:
b) Collision avoidance
c) Noise abatement
d) Flight plan filing
e) Local airspace restriction
h) RPA emergency including loss of C2 link
i) Safe recovery of RPA through controlled airspace in case RPA system failure precludes the ability to remain outside controlled airspace, etc.
Nano and Micro RPA while operating upto 50 ft and 200 ft AGL respectively are exempted from filing the flight plan and obtaining ADC.
Irrespective of height, operation of RPA in Mini and above category shall be conducted only after filing flight plan and obtaining following clearances:
a) Nearest ATC Unit
b) Air Defence Clearance (ADC)
c) Flight Information Centre (FIC)
All RPA operator except Nano RPA shall inform the concerned local police authority in writing prior to commencing the operations.
In the event of cancellation of operations, the operator shall notify the same to all appropriate authorities immediately.
Irrespective of weight category, all RPA operations are restricted to day operation and within Visual Line of Sight only.
RPA shall be operated only when the following meteorological conditions exist:
a) During daylight (between sunrise and sunset).
b) In Visual Meteorological Conditions (VMC) with a minimum ground visibility of 5 km and cloud ceiling not less than 450 m (1500 ft).
c) Surface winds of not more than 10 knots.
d) No precipitation (rain, hail or snow) or thunderstorm activities.
Remote pilots shall prefix RPA call-sign with the word UNMANNED during voice communications between ATC and the remote pilot station. RPA operator shall ensure that no Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) is caused to air traffic operations and air navigation equipment.
For intended operations of RPA in controlled airspace, the remote pilot shall establish contact with ATC prior to entering the controlled airspace.
RPA Operator shall carry out safety assessment of the RPA operations including that of launch/recovery sites. The site (including emergency operation zone and any safety zone for the operations of the RPAS) shall be under the full control of the operator. The take-off and landing areas should be properly segregated from public access.
Designated safe areas should be established by the RPA Operator for emergency RPA holding and flight terminations.
No person shall act as a remote pilot for more than one unmanned aircraft operation at a time.
If two or more persons are available as remote pilots for a flight, at any given moment, there shall be only one person acting as a remote pilot-in-command.
RPA Operator shall be responsible for ensuring that the RPA is operated safely and remains clear of all manned/unmanned air traffic, terrain and obstacles.
RPA shall, at all times, give way to manned aircraft. 12.17 RPA shall not be flown in RPA shall not discharge or drop substances unless specially cleared and mentioned in UAOP.
RPA shall not transport any hazardous material such as explosives or animal or human payload.
RPA operator/remote pilot shall be liable to ensure that privacy norms of individuals are not compromised in any manner.
The CRA lists the no drone zone areas (Table)
13.1 UIN and/or UAOP issued by DGCA shall not:
a) Confer on RPAS operator any right against the owner or resident of any land or building or over which the operations are conducted, or prejudice in any way the rights and remedies which a person may have in respect of any injury to persons or damage to property caused directly or indirectly by the RPA.
b) Absolve the operator/remote pilot from compliance with any other regulatory requirement, which may exist under the State or local law.
All civil RPAS operators shall have insurance with the liability that they might incur for any damage to third party resulting from the accident/incident. To encourage new technology, Indian organisations involved in R & D related activity of RPAS, having obtained industrial license from DIPP, shall use the test sites indicated in Annexure-VIII for testing/demonstration purpose.
No drone zone
▪ Within an area of 5 km (2.7 NM) from Aerodrome Reference Point of operational airports;
▪ Above the Obstacle Limitation Surfaces (OLS) of an operational aerodrome specified in Ministry of Civil Aviation (Height Restrictions for Safeguarding of Aircraft Operations) Rules, 2015 notified through Gazette of India notification GSR751(E) or its amendments;
▪ Within permanent or temporary Prohibited, Restricted and Danger Areas including TRA and TSA as notified by AAI in AIP;
▪ Without prior approval, over densely populated areas or over or near an area affecting public safety or where emergency operations are underway;
▪ Within 50 km from international border which includes Line of Control (LoC), Line of Actual Control (LAC) and Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL);
▪ Beyond 500 m (horizontal) into sea from coast line provided the location of ground station is on fixed platform over land;
▪ Within 5 km radius from Vijay Chowk in Delhi;
▪ Within 500 m from perimeter of strategic locations notified by Ministry of Home Affairs;
▪ Within 500 m from perimeter of military installations/ facilities;
▪ From a mobile platform such as a moving vehicle, ship or aircraft; and
▪ As an autonomous flight, unless it is following an Autonomous Flight Termination (AFT) or Return to Home (RH) procedure.
▪ Over eco-sensitive zones around National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries notified by Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change without prior permission.
The above list of Identified Area for Operation of UAS excludes the restricted areas notified by various Government agencies.
It is the responsibility of such Indian operators to ensure that UAS manufacturers to ensure that no manned or unmanned aircraft is flying during the intended timeframe in the intended test area.
For detailed draft, visit http://www.dgca.nic.in/misc/draft%20cars/CAR%20-%20UAS%20(Draft_Nov2017).pdf